After, a two-year track record of disrespecting governance institutions, undermining due process, and overall violating the public trust through its underhanded actions and bullying tactics, the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) now expects Filipinos to believe it when it says that it will not go after bloggers and Internet users who “like,” share, re-tweet, or forward content on social media and email.
[DOJ Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy] said the Department of Justice is not interested in targeting individual tweets and Facebook likes in implementing the online libel provision.
He said: “As a matter of priority, let me say it on my lawyer’s oath, blogging, individual comments, tweeting, boyfriend-girlfriend discussions – those are not the priorities of the DOJ. It is very difficult to catch fugitives from justice, what more individual tweets and individual likes. Let’s manage our expectations. Let the law work.”
“Let the law work.”
These are words coming from a senior officer of one of the most powerful executive departments of the Philippine government that repeatedly and deliberately defied court orders issued by the Supreme Court over the last two years since the government of President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III came to power. No less than DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima herself faces disbarment charges over these violations. Indeed, it is an indictment on De Lima and the DOJ’s ascendancy as a beacon of the modern notion of “rule of law” that the Secretary was widely-considered to be unfit to be Supreme Court Chief Justice — a role she apparently covetted and campaigned for early this year.
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Leila de Lima is not what one would ordinarily consider â€œSupreme Court material.â€ She has not only demonstrated an utter contempt for anyone elseâ€™s rule of law, sheâ€™s proudly confirmed that as her view. In mindlessly serving as President BS Aquinoâ€™s attack dog her legal work has been sloppy. Sheâ€™s a â€œgun hobbyistâ€ like her boss, which I personally think puts her only a step or two above somebody like, say, Pol Pot or Vlad the Impaler on the scale of being creepy and dangerous. And perhaps most disturbing is the realization that the poor human rights reputation of the country might be directly related to having an unprincipled thug in a clammy ungulate suit serve as the head of the Commission on Human Rights for a couple years. No, this is not someone who projects the air of Solomonic judicial statesmanship that we imagine the occupants of the highest court in the land should have.
Creepy and dangerous indeed.
In late 2011, De Lima and her Gestapo in the DOJ slapped a travel ban on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who, at the time, was seeking permission to travel abroad for medical treatment. The basis of De Lima’s hold order on Arroyo’s travel plans was her claim that Arroyo was in the process of seeking politican asylum in the Dominican Republic — a claim which was later denied by that country’s government. But the real punchline in that Cabinet-level gaffe was in how De Lima’s claim was based on a mobile phone text message from an unknown sender…
JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday admitted that the government has no clear proof that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would seek political asylum in Dominican Republic.
In a chance interview, De Lima said she received the information regarding Mrs. Arroyoâ€™s asylum only thru a forwarded SMS message, and she doesnâ€™t even know the identity of the sender.
â€œKung may nakuha akong information about Dominican Republic? Sabi ko oo, nakatanggap ako ng text so Iâ€™m verifying it. I donâ€™t even know whoâ€™s the source of text kasi finorward lang sa akin,â€ De Lima said.
[Translation: Did I receive information about the Dominican Republic? I said, yes, I did receive a text message and I’m verifying it. I don’t really know the source of the text because it was just forwarded to me]
De Lima disclosed that once she gets any information during the verification, she would immediately disclose it in public.
…an astounding demonstration of lack of procedural rigour in a department that is supposedly all about law and procedure. De Lima’s spectacular lapse in judgment in that instance now finds itself surrounded in irony in the context of the libel provisions in Republic Act 10175 (a.k.a. the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) that MalacaÃ±ang is now scrambling to defend. It is the very aspect of RA 10175 which allows the Philippine Government to hunt down and prosecute as criminals people who forward and share “libelous” content online that is the most contentious today and has “activists” up in arms. Ironic now because De Lima was herself guilty of propagating unverified information and using it to marshal state resources to persecute a Filipino citizen.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.